Portal:Piano

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Introduction

Grand piano and upright piano.jpg

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys (small levers) that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte, the Italian term for the early 1700s versions of the instrument, which in turn derives from gravicembalo col piano e forte and fortepiano. The Italian musical terms piano and forte indicate "soft" and "loud" respectively, in this context referring to the variations in volume (i.e., loudness) produced in response to a pianist's touch or pressure on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the strings, and the louder the sound of the note produced and the stronger the attack. The name was created as a contrast to harpsichord, a musical instrument that doesn't allow variation in volume. The first fortepianos in the 1700s had a quieter sound and smaller dynamic range.

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Vladimir Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz (October 1, 1903 – November 5, 1989) was a Russian-American classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer. His technique and use of tone color and the excitement of his playing were and remain legendary. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Despite rapturous receptions at recitals, Horowitz became increasingly unsure of his abilities as a pianist. On several occasions, the pianist had to be pushed onto the stage. Several times, he withdrew from public performances. After his comeback in 1965 he gave solo recitals only rarely.

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Chopin's Pleyel piano on Majorca

Pleyel et Cie ("Pleyel and Company") is a French piano manufacturing firm founded by the composer Ignace Pleyel in 1807. In 1815, he was joined by his son, Camille, as a business partner. The firm provided pianos to Frédéric Chopin, and also ran a concert hall, the Salle Pleyel, where Chopin performed his first — and last — Paris concerts. Pleyel's major contribution to piano development was the first use of a metal frame in a piano. Pleyel pianos were the choice of composers such as Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, de Falla, and Stravinsky.

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Did you know…

… that since the 1950s, piano keys are no longer made from ebony and ivory but plastics?

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